Next season's Heineken Champions Cup could be set for some unlikely additions.
Reports in France suggest the South African ex-Super Rugby quartet of the Stormers, Sharks, Lions and Bulls.
The four teams were supposed to begin their long-mooted integration into the Guinness PRO14 over the coming weeks with the Rainbow Cup.
However, COVID-19 and its associated travel restrictions have prevented that from occurring.
But the four South African teams could be presented with an even bigger prize next season according to Midi Olympique.
They claim that next season's Champions Cup will keep the format of this year's tournament, with eight teams apiece from the PRO14, French Top 14 and the Gallagher Premiership in England. They'll be split into two pools of 12, with each team playing two home and two away games.
A big update on the future of European Rugby from Simon Halliday...
We're getting eight more years of European competition with all three leagues agreeing 🤝 pic.twitter.com/RT6ummpEQB
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) April 25, 2021
EPCR chairman Simon Halliday admitted their could be some involvement with the South African sides going forward.
He told BT Sport, "All of our stakeholders are changing and improving, so the opportunity that could be presented to us through the South African franchises coming in to make it a PRO16, that’s not agreed yet, but the debate is very advanced.
“The opportunity to look at global club competition at some point in the future, all of these things are open for us to look at and develop and make a reality.
“Fans are going to be more excited about that opportunity in years to come.”
This season's Champions Cup edges closer to its conclusion this weekend, with Leinster playing Ronan O'Gara's La Rochelle in the semi-finals.
The other semi-final pits Toulouse against fellow Top 14 side, Bordeaux-Begles.